Planning Ramped Up For A Return For Football
Tuesday, 28th Apr 2020 09:23
According to media reports the Premier League are ramping up their planning with a return to action perhaps only just over a month away !
I have always maintained the same stance on when football will return to this country, from the very start I have said that the Premier League has had an early June return pencilled in the diary with the end date set for mid July.
The footballing bodies have always been in close contact with the Government on this and both have been in agreement about the way to move forward, although not much has been said by either side over the past six weeks or so, they have been talking and football is seen by the Government as something that will provide entertainment and help people get back to normal.
The likelihood though is that this season may well be completed behind closed doors although the hope is that perhaps at the end of it in July some games can have spectators in them, however away fans are likely to be banned to stop mass transit.
The safety of the Nation though is the priority and any plans are subject to sudden change should the Corona Virus situation take a turn for the worse.
The problem going forward as it has been in the past has been that no one knows what could happen next, criticising the Government is easy and there is no doubt they have made mistakes, but when it comes to the way to tackle the virus they have listened to their medical and scientific advisers and more to the point followed that advice, I am not getting political here, but would a different Government ignored that advice or would they too have followed it, I would suggest the latter.
That has meant that although the death toll has been unprecedented, so far at least it has not been the chaos predicted in the hospitals, despite being short of some supplies the NHS has not collapsed as was feared.
The situation has followed the pattern that the Government and their advisers predicted, but we have managed to flatten the critical period and can now hopefully start to move forward.
This will all be done strictly to the medical and scientific advice and that includes whether it is safe to return to playing football matches.
We are already seeing Arsenal returning to a form of group training this week and they will be followed by others in the next week, this has not been done by the Gunners on a whim, this is n conjunction with the Premier League who in turn are being briefed by the Government, it is part of the plan not against it.
The suggestion is that by mid May that teams will be able to start some form of contact training and that Players will need at least three weeks of this before any competitive match action.
The Premier League Shareholders are due to meet on Friday and the main point of conversation will be the Players contract issues as well as the transfer window and it is unlikely that any player signed before this season is completed will be able to play in it, indeed it is more likely that the transfer window will not open until the Premier League season is complete, FIFA may set other dates, but the Premier League is likely to impose it's own to suit it's situation.
The understanding is that the Government will announce that it will relax some lockdown measures at the end of next week if the current downward trend continues and that the following week the Premier League will then announce the exact dates that football will return and the full details, the initial games at least will be behind closed doors and under strict medical conditions, teams will not shake hands or indeed walk out of the tunnel together will be one of the most basic rules.
I have in the past suggested that June 8th is a likely start date, the media are reporting that now that date has been pushed back a week and it will be June 13th.
The aim is of playing the outstanding 92 games in an eight-week period, allowing a definitive conclusion to the season. The FA Cup will also make its return.
Games will also only take place in 'approved stadiums', which would mean that not all 20 Premier League grounds might be used, with clubs having to follow advice from the government, the police and the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies.
This could mean one of several things, firstly some grounds might be considered too small Ie Bournemouth or it could also allow the Premier League to change a venue should the situation merit, ie if Liverpool were about to win the league at Anfield and it was felt that a large crowd would gather at the stadium to celebrate.
A minimum of 300 people will be needed for a Premier League fixture to take place behind closed doors, after an official estimate calculated how many will need to be inside each ground on matchday.
This includes 40 players, 32 coaching and medical staff from the two teams, 12 match officials, between six and eight doctors and medical personnel, three Premier League officials and 130 or more media personnel.
The media personnel figure may seem high, but most of these will be television technical staff needed to facilitate the games being shown live on TV.
The end of the domestic campaign is earmarked for July 27th including FA Cup ties, although this date might not include the final itself.
There will then be a short break before teams will start to prepare for the 2020/21 season which will now start, this date is still in the planning stage and could depend on how many of our clubs are still in Europe.
UEFA intent to complete this season's programme in a 23 day period ending with the Champions League final on 28th August, depending on our clubs involvement the Premier League could push the start date of next season back to as late as September 12th.
I have always maintained that this season will be completed and I think it is right that it is done so, but it has to be under strict medical advice and conditions and that is 100% the case, obviously we will watch what happens in Germany, we are not the pioneers on the return to football we will be followers and that will be an advantage in that we can see what Germany does right and what it does wrong.
As I say I am not making any political statements here, I strongly believe in a crisis like this we should all be on the same side and working to find solutions not point the finger at problems, there will be plenty of time to see where we went right and wrong over the coming years.
Life has to resume, perhaps it will never truly return to normal, but Countries cannot survive without morale and football can hep provide that and they certainly cannot survive without commerce and we need to get the economy back up and running, no one is saying medical advice should be ignored and no one is saying things will happen quickly, football is just a short step in the right direction.
Photo: Action Images
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